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Cam EU speech set for Friday

Cam EU speech set for Friday

David Cameron’s long-awaited speech recasting the UK’s relationship with Europe will take place in the Netherlands this Friday, Downing Street has announced.

The Prime Minister embarked on a diplomatic offensive ahead of his speech and held “very friendly and constructive” phone calls with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch premier Mark Rutte.

No. 10 said Mr Cameron will continue to explain his approach in talks with other leaders this week.

Downing Street also refused to be drawn on whether Ms Merkel had persuaded him to change the date of the speech to avoid clashing with the 50th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty between Germany and France.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage this evening said his party was in contact with eurosceptic Tory MPs, claiming some were ready to defect if they were "dissatisfied" with the speech.

"I think a lot depends on Cameron’s big speech," he told Radio 4's PM. "I think if his speech dissatisfies people will come [to UKIP] and if his speech satisfies they probably won’t."

The push to consult other EU states came as Mr Cameron said today that an immediate in-out referendum would be a 'false choice'.

The Prime Minister spoke to the Today programme this morning as pressure mounts on him to clarify his stance on Europe. He said: "What I don’t favour – and this is important – I think if we had an in-out referendum tomorrow or very shortly, I don’t think that would be the right answer for the simple reason that I think we’d be giving people a false choice.

"Because right now, I think there are a lot of people who say ‘well, I would like to be in Europe, but I’m not happy with every aspect of the relationship, so I want it changed’.”

Eric Pickles yesterday became the second cabinet minister to warn that Britain may have to leave the EU. The Communities Secretary said last night he wanted to remain a part of the EU, but not "at any price".

Meanwhile a new ConservativeHome poll shows that 78% of Tory members either want to quit the EU, or replace it with a common market relationship.

Green Box: Cam EU speech set for FridayClick to open

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